My name is Randy and I’m a recovering compulsive gambler. My intent is to provide insight into my recovery and that of others who I have come to know during the past six and half years. The title Recovery Lines has special meaning for me. Not just about the numerous helpful resources that are available for compulsive gamblers, but also about how I viewed myself during the throes of this addiction.
About ten years ago, I was heavily into a gambling addiction. My life was quite chaotic in all areas: work stress, family stress, spiritual stress, financial, etc. No matter what I tried in order to control it, the addiction became more of my outlet. It seemed to be the only alternative for survival, yet, at the same time, it consumed me to the point that all my perceived stresses only seemed to magnify themselves further. It wasn’t apparent to me at the time that I was really running from myself and not the perceived stresses in my life that I justified my escape from. I hid a lifetime of perceived unfulfilled personal expectations by directing my inner anger at others in a not-so-obvious manner as to be called out on it. Although some thought that I was an ideal husband, father, neighbor and worker, little did they know the “real” me. I was really the little insecure boy who did not know where and what he was supposed to be, much less being good at anything. Although I must say, I learned to fake it well. The sixties song, “Cathy’s Clown,” always brought a tear to my eye. I was laughing on the outside but crying on the inside.
Approximately ten years ago I wrote a short story about myself entitled “The Bobber.” Yes, that was me just bobbing along in all directions in the middle of an endless ocean. I kept a vigilant lookout, hoping that someone would save me by throwing me a lifeline. All those lines out there and none of them were close enough to grab onto. I was really tired after years of bobbing along and began looking forward to when I would eventually begin to sink into total emptiness. My writing cried out for help, but no one heard it. It was futile, as every day became the same day and I would convince myself that it wasn’t that bad. The merry-go-round went around faster and faster. I had to get off, as it seemed to be the only logical alternative to controlling this addiction. I won’t go into the really bizarre thinking that went into all that, but suffice it to say I was going to save everyone from me, in hopes of ridding myself of all the acquired shame and guilt and sparing them the same.
Since being in recovery for a number of years, I’ve heard similar stories. Not knowing exactly where we were supposed to be and who we really were. Today I’ve just learned to accept that I am where I am supposed to be, one day at a time and doing the next right thing. As for those “recovery lines” … well, I found out that you actually have to swim out to get them and grab onto them. They don’t necessarily come to you. But once you grab them, never let go.